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Lone Rider SASS#32091

Differences in Nickle and yellow brass

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I have always had a few Nickel brass to reload when I would pick them up at the range although I normally reload yellow brass. I have a chance to buy some used 38 spl brass and about half of it is nickel. I have heard and read about Nickel flaking or scratching dies but I have not noticed that in the ones I have reloaded. Is there anything to be concerned about in reloading nickel brass? I am curious about your experience. Thanks.

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For me they don't seem to go through as many reloading cycles as my brass ones do. If I do use them I prefer to shoot them in my pistols only as I don't trust shooting them in my rifle in case one fails and won't extract.

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Posted (edited)

While our local shooting ranges were shut down I loaded much empty brass to keep busy.  This brass had been reloaded many times.  I only had three brass-only cases split.  At least 10% of the nickle-plated cases split.  This is a common experience with nickle-plated cases.  Like HSMW I reserve my nickle-plated for revolvers.

I have not experienced flaking nickle cases.  Some is so durable that most of the nickle has worn off during reloading.  If you can get nickle-plated cases for 3-cents or less a case I would buy them.

Edited by Edward R S Canby, SASS#59971
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Posted (edited)

No, nickel plated brass won't scratch your dies (especially the carbide ones you should be using).    Most folks will discard the case that starts to flake off nickel chunks, just cause it looks "ugly".    A batch of brass that flakes off the nickel was not properly prepped for plating at the factory.  If the plating is solid, you will, over thirty or so loadings, wear the nickel down to the point where the underlying brass shows through.  That shows how proper plating will hold up almost as well as the brass underneath.

 

Some nickel plated brass has a tendency to crack the case when expanded during loading, or when fired.   That is caused by "hydrogen embrittlement" of the brass that occurs when plating.  It's kind of hard to control in the plating shop apparently, as some of the best quality nickel-brass can sometimes be brittle and develop cracks.  The ones in .38 special/.357 cases are most serious to a Cowboy shooter when the nickel loads are fired in a lever rifle.   If one of those nickel cases splits, usually it's along the length of the case, but sometimes can be "around the circumference" of the case.   The first type is hard to extract (to the point of extractor slipping off it instead of extracting), and the second type usually leaves a ring from the front of the case stuck in the chamber.  Due to this, most cowboy shooters will not run nickel-brass in a lever rifle.  Just revolvers.

 

I also find that the nickel cases crack about ten times faster than the same brand of plain brass cases (1/10th the number of possible loadings).

 

Good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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Posted (edited)

I've also found the nickel to not last as long before they start cracking and splitting. Until I got a good supply of yellow, I used the nickel only in the pistol for reasons as stated above. Better to battle a split at the unloading table then on the rifle stage.;)

Edited by Eyesa Horg
typos
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I have had several .38 case mouths detach from the rest in a rifle and will not use nickel again if I can help it. I think those cases had a cannelure. I've also had some that the nickel has almost worn off and kept chugging away. Nowadays I tend to toss them as I find them. I have about 15 gallons of .38's and toss those that have damaged mouths, splits longer than an 1/8" and/or nickel finish. Other calibers in nickel may split sooner, but haven't had a case mouth separation as yet. If you like to have belt loops loaded with ammo, nickel keeps the verdigris away.

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Like others, I’ve found that the nickel cases split way sooner than brass. I try to use them for pistols only. But if one sneaks into my rifle reloads I load it first, so I shoot last. If it won’t eject call “broken gun” put it down, no penalty, no misses for Unfired rounds. .   
 

BTW, I catch 99% of my bad cases buy grabbing a double handful, say 15-20 or so cases. Cup them in my hands and shake. If there is a split case you will hear it. 

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PLUS ONE to Garrison Joe and Hoss  B)

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Nickel is slightly harder, so the case mouth may split after just a few reloads where brass would have gotten a little more use.  That's about it.  It won't hurt your dies at all.

 

If you polish your brass (which I think 99% of reloaders do), the nickel will start to wear thin and the brass underneath show through.  That doesn't hurt a thing; keep on loading and shooting until the case mouth splits.  

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I only use nickel cases in my belt. Helps when reload 1 is called for. They will split much sooner than brass.

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I use the nickel in those matches that turn out to be lost brass matches.  Plus, at those ranges where the grass or ground covering makes it harder to see the brass.  Otherwise it is the brass ones for me.

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8 minutes ago, Lone Rider SASS#32091 said:

I’m curious how you got my alias. I am number 32091. Did they just miss it?

he is "Frontier Lone Rider" to SASS. on here it is shortenend

 

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To support a few of the comments above, I think it was Guns & Ammo that ran an article quite a few years ago (1979 maybe?) testing yellow and nickel .38’s till they split.

I may be a little off on the numbers, but they got ~145 reloads from the yellow case before splitting, but only 56 from the nickel case.

My experience Is consistent with that, so I avoid nickel cases for anything that will go in a rifle unless stuffed full of black powder.

 

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1 hour ago, Crisco said:

got ~145 reloads from the yellow case before splitting, but only 56 from the nickel case.

 

Firing only one case of each type is interesting, but way short of being a significant quantitative result.  But it sure reflects several shooters' experience.

 

Good luck and good data mining, GJ

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I have had great results with Federal nickle plated cases in .357. I have some with over 30 reloads, most at "nosebleed" levels. Unfortunately, the only source of Fed Ni brass ,I have found, is factory ammo. Other Ni, especially Remington , I classify as DPU- Dont Pick Up. Some as little as three reloads, at SASS levels. I have only seen a few chipped or flaked Ni cases, never a Federal.

 

Imis

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9 minutes ago, Imis Twohofon,SASS # 46646 said:

I have had great results with Federal nickle plated cases in .357. I have some with over 30 reloads, most at "nosebleed" levels. Unfortunately, the only source of Fed Ni brass ,I have found, is factory ammo. Other Ni, especially Remington , I classify as DPU- Dont Pick Up. Some as little as three reloads, at SASS levels. I have only seen a few chipped or flaked Ni cases, never a Federal.

 

Imis

Any experience with star line nickel? 

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11 hours ago, Crisco said:

I may be a little off on the numbers, but they got ~145 reloads from the yellow case before splitting, but only 56 from the nickel case.

 

 

That's interesting because I shot nickel in the pistols and brass in the rifle for years and I would tell folks for every one brass case that split I would have 3 nickel's split....so that's the same as your test results. 

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I had some Starline nickel in .45 Schofield which split relatively quickly........... I only used them in pistols. I haven't checked the chambers, but they may be oversized. Years ago I had the mouth of a .38 piece of brass separate that caused me six misses because I couldn't fire the balance in my rifle. I learned two things: never use nickle in a rifle and you can't make up for your misses in the rest of the match. It took two stages to realize this and calm down. :lol:

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The only practical difference I have seen between nickel and brass is in one specific case.   .38 Smith and Wesson cases made by Winchester seem to be thicker walled than any other make, be it brass or nickel.   When I try to reload .360" bullets in those cases, they bulge the case to the point where they will not fit in the chambers of my guns.   I do not have this problem with any other make of brass.  As such, I reload those cases with .358" hollow base bullets, and with black powder.  If I lose these cases, I don't worry much as I don't have very many to begin with.  

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10 hours ago, Buckshot Bob said:

Any experience with star line nickel? 

I have only ever had a few, they were brought to me after a stage. I love Starline.

 

Imis

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Like a couple others have said..

I only load nickel plated brass to put them in my reloading loops

on my shotgun belt.. They won't oxidize near as much.. If any..

Also like others have said..

a feller will get fewer reloads out of them before splitting..

 

Rance ;)

Thinkin' they sure look purty tho :huh:

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What Garrison Joe and Hoss said.

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The only time I have bothered to reload nickel brass was for a rifle as most regional matches are "lost brass."

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